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Cotutelles de thèse

A cotutelle de thèse is a doctoral project that is carried out within the framework of a formalised agreement between two universities (a Swiss and a foreign university). Cotutelle de thèse projects entail the following: preparation of the doctoral thesis under the joint direction of two supervisors; a reasonable distribution of the time spent by the doctoral candidate at each institution; a joint defence of thesis; the awarding of a joint diploma or of two separate diplomas with a reference to the cotutelle de these cooperation with the partner university.

Every year, the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI, within the framework of its programme «Cotutelles de thèse», grants financial support for projects that are based on a cooperation agreement between a Swiss and a partner university abroad. The maximum amount of aid is CHF 10,000. The funds are mainly intended to go towards travel and living expenses incurred by the doctoral candidate and his/her supervisors. swissuniversities is responsible for the management of the programme «Cotutelles de thèse».

Doctoral candidates in all fields of study planning and carrying out their doctoral project as a cotutelle are eligible for financial support if:

  • they are registered at a Swiss university;
  • they are Swiss citizens or hold a residence permit B, C, or G;
  • they have studied at least one year at a Swiss university (at the levels of Bachelor, Master or at the doctoral level, calculated from the date of registration) and
  • their age does not exceed 35 years.

Call for applications 2017 now open - deadline 31 March 2017

The call 2017 is open to cotutelle de these projects based on a collaboration between a Swiss university and a partner university from the whole of Europe and Israel.

To participate, candidates have to hand in their application (in five copies) at the office responsible for cotutelles de thèse at the Swiss university concerned, which will then submit the application by 31 March 2017 to : swissuniversities, «Cotutelles de thèse», Effingerstrasse 15, PO Box, 3001 Bern.

Please note that the universities may also set their own deadlines - be sure you hand in all necessary documents on time.

Evaluation by the programme’s expert committee will take place in Mai/June 2017. The funds awarded will then be transferred to the Swiss universities concerned, which will be in charge of their administration.



Application process and documents

Both universities involved in the doctoral project are responsible for approving the cotutelle de thèse. In particular, the institutions must frame the modalities for carrying out the cotutelle de thèse (e.g. deadlines, areas of responsibilities) in a cooperation agreement. In addition, the (Swiss) university – usually, its office for international relations – submits the application material for financial aid to the General Secretariat of swissuniversities.



Application material

The required documents (five photocopies in typewritten form) include the application for financial support, the cooperation agreement and any other information stipulated in these two documents. The supplementary information included contains instructions for submitting the application.

  • Application for financial support: (Document languages: French, German, Italian, English) This document contains the actual application for financial support.
  • Cooperation agreement: sample contract (German/English, German/French, French/English)
    Each application must be submitted with the contract between the two participating universities which regulates all open questions to the cotutelle de thèse. Should a university not have its own template, it can use the sample contract. A contract may accommodate specific needs of the universities concerned, but it must contain all elements stipulated in the sample contract.
  • Supplementary information (only in French, German or Italian) This factsheet provides detailed information about the eligibility requirements as well as the formalities on submitting an application. 



Contact persons at the participating universities

Universität Basel : Manuela Rossini Mail

Universität Bern

Université de Fribourg : Nathalie Rappo Mail

Université de Genève : Annik Baumgartner Mail

Université de Lausanne : Sylvie Kohli and Matthias Buess Mail

Universität Luzern : Catrin Scheiber Mail

Université de Neuchâtel : Marie-France Farine Mail

Università della Svizzera italiana : Dafne Pedrazzoli Mail

Universität Zürich : Guido Kleinberger Mail



Legal bases

The legal basis for cotutelle de thèse projects with French and Italian universities is provided by the framework agreement concluded at the level of the rectors' conferences in the countries concerned. The legal basis is further established by the cooperation agreement set out for each project (see sample contract above).

  • For France: French-Swiss Framework Agreement from 10 September 2008 between the Conférence des Présidents d'Université (CPU) and the Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities (CRUS) on the recognition of diplomas and academic achievement.
  • For Italy: Applicable are the Framework Agreement  from 26 February 2003 between the Conferenza dei Rettori delle Università Italiane (CRUI) and the Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities (CRUS) for programmes in the area of a research doctorate and the accompanying regulations.

There are no agreements at the level of the rectors' conference with other countries. In such cases, CRUS had decided that the cooperation agreement concluded for the individual project may serve as the legal basis, providing the agreement has included all conditions stipulated in the sample contract (e.g. regarding insurance for doctoral candidates or information on awarding the diploma).



Criteria for selecting projects and awarding financial aid

Selection criteria and guidelines for awarding financial support (in German and French): Here you will find all criteria for assessing applications used by the expert committee, guidelines for awarding financial support as well as information on how decisions are communicated and how funds are managed.




Tristan Flury
programme responsible
T +41 31 335 07 66

Catherine Vésy
programme administration
T +41 31 335 07 67


Programme flyer

Flyer for doctoral candidates for the call 2017
German  French
English  Italian

Managing your project

Guidelines for the use of a grant
German, French, Italian, English

Final report form in French or German